Written by John Godber. Tx 14th February 1984
Annette proudly displays her new Polaroid camera to the class. She seems to have an indulgent mother who spoils her rotten – but this surface happiness hides darker secrets …..
The first of five GH episodes penned by John Godber, it provides answers to questions which were posed earlier in the series. Annette’s mother suffers from depression and hits her daughter, so we can assume that the lavish presents are her way of saying sorry. Knowing this explains a great deal about Annette’s behaviour (her willingness to taunt others, for example) but it also poses troubling questions. She’s been this way since we first met her in the first year – has she really been abused all this time?
Everything comes to light after Julie jealously steals her camera. She only meant it as a joke (this gives me nasty flashbacks to the sagas of Belinda’s clarinet and Fay’s hockey stick) but Annette doesn’t see the funny side. They have a brief fight but Annette pulls away, clearly in pain. This wasn’t Julie’s fault though – Annette has bruises on her arms, caused by her mother.
Earlier, the games mistress Miss Hartley also spotted the bruises and gently questioned her. Annette insisted she fell and Miss Hartley, somewhat reluctantly, seemed to believe her. We’ve seen this in the series before, where a teacher is aware that a pupil may be suffering abuse but decides not to act. It’s no doubt an accurate reflection of real life, but it still feels disturbing. Fay and Julie attempt to cheer Annette up, but there’s a sense that this story isn’t over yet.
Elsewhere, Roland’s smartened himself up – much to the delight of Janet (Simone Nylander). She launches one of her trademark monologues as she fires question after question at the uncomprehending and uninterested Row-land. It’s a nice moment of comic relief.
As is Roland’s transformation into a school bully. After being bullied himself by Gripper, Roland’s now become a fully fledged member of Jimmy’s gang. Jimmy, Nigel and Roland form an intimidating trio – Jimmy does most of the talking, Roland chips in with the odd word, whilst Nigel says nothing (although he sneers very effectively!)
Mrs McClusky, Mr Smart and Mr McGuffy discuss the merger, which now seems to be going ahead. Mr Smart isn’t in favour, he declares it would be better if they went back to smaller schools which would give teachers a chance to spend more time with the pupils. Mr McGuffy doesn’t see the logic in this, although there seems to be something in Mr Smart’s argument. It’s interesting that Zammo’s mother, Mrs McGuire (Jenny Twigge) also expresses a desire to see the merger stopped. Although she leans politically to the left (and no doubt Mr Smart leans very much to the right) they both seem to have come to the same conclusion. Maybe for different reasons ….
Given that he’d just become Artistic Director of the Hull Truck Theatre in 1984, it’s no surprise that John Godber only penned a handful of scripts for GH. His other episode for series seven concludes the storyline developed here and is just as dramatically satisfying. His later work for the series is a little more light-hearted though (it includes the memorable affair of Mr Bronson’s stolen wig!).